Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Did You Marry the Wrong Person?

Did you marry the wrong person?  Stephen Altrogge & Tim Challies both tackle this question on their blogs.  Looking at the divorce rate, even among those who call themselves Christians, I would say this is a pretty pertinent question.  I would expect that when you boil it down, the only way one can walk away from their vows "for better or worse . . . 'til death do us part" is that they believe they have married the wrong person.  Tim's answer to this question, at first glance, was not what I expected:

"I guarantee that you have married the wrong person. We all marry the wrong person. Perhaps I should say it like this: we all marry the “wrong” person. We all marry a person who sins against us, who sometimes exasperates us by helping us worship our idols and at other times irritates us by smashing them to pieces. We all marry a person who has stinky breath and physical blemishes and bad moods. We all marry a person who is apparently incompatible with us on all kinds of levels."

Stephen's is good, too:

"The husband is neat, the wife is messy. The wife is talkative, the husband is quiet. The husband is always on time, the wife lives more in the moment. The wife is social, the husband is a homebody. These differences, which were initially just an irritant, have grown into something massive. What was once a tiny gap has become a great divide."

I can see how that can happen.  I laughed when I read the paragraph above, because the description, with a few alterations, is exactly Michael & me.  We have so many similarities, especially on the important things, but there are a lot of little differences that can drive us crazy.  I can see how if you focus on those differences, they can drive a wedge.  When we feel this happening, we need a reminder to alter our skewed view, one that I was happy to see Tim give.

"But here is what we need to see: The wrongness of our spouse is one of the great formative influences on us. The wrongness and the apparent incompatibilities are the very things God uses to mold and shape us. A few years down the road you will look back on all of that wrongness, all you declared to be wrong about your husband or wife, and find that God was not wrong at all. He knew exactly what you needed.

What I have found is that often times, when someone fears that he has married the wrong person, or when he fears that he is about to marry the wrong person, he is looking at the differences between himself and this other person and lamenting that this other person is not more like him. He may describe her personality or preferences or passions, but what he is really doing is showing that he wants this woman, this potential wife, to be more like him. If only she was…me! Too many men, too many women, truly want to marry an image of themselves. And why not? You tend to like your preferences, to like your idols, to like your likes.

But ask any married person what his life would be like if he had married someone who was just like himself and you’ll see the folly of it. Her talkativeness was just the antidote to your quiet nature, drawing you out, filling your home with godly words. Your sexual freedom was just what she needed to release her fears and teach her how to express love in a whole new way. Her constant lateness taught you to be patient and showed you that she wasn’t late because she was selfish, but because she cared, just like Jesus when he showed up “too late” to save his friend Lazarus. In all these ways and so many more, God uses incompatibilities to produce godliness. These differences are truly glorious, the means by which God helps us put our own sin to death." (emphasis mine)

I wholeheartedly concur with Tim!  It is exactly our differences that God uses to sanctify us.  I am an impatient, quick-to-anger person; Michael is the exact opposite.  If he had my temperament, this would be a very unhappy household indeed!  As it stands, his patient, forgiving personality is showing some evidence of tempering mine, & it makes for a much more peaceful marriage.  I've heard it said that marriage is God's greatest sanctifying tool, & I think that's true.  Nowhere else will you have two clashing personalities in such close communion filing away the rough edges.  And, what I have already discovered in our marriage is that as our edges are smoothed, we grow closer to each other & more like God.  Which, of course, is His perfect plan.  So, bottom line, if you fear you married the wrong person, fear no more.  God doesn't make mistakes & works all things for the good of His children.  He will certainly do so in your marriage.